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RECORD REVIEW: Obsidian

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Read Time:7 Minute, 28 Second

Latest Release From Northlane

VIA BELIEVE

April 22, 2022 (US Release)

Obsidian – Drops April 22, 2022 via Believe

Ask and you shall receive, Lovelies! As noted in the NORTHLANE Summer US Tour Announcement, I was ecstatic about the release of “Obsidian”. Since becoming acutely aware of NORTHLANE in 2019 by the brilliance that is “Alien” and the happenings over the last two years on our planet (especially in Australia), I often wondered if the band would make it. Australia had one of the harshest mandates and lockdowns during the height of the CoVid19 outbreak. The country fiercely fought for fair treatment and freedoms from their government’s grip and I could only guess that a lot of things could cause a lot of change. Not just within society’s boundaries, but within its people as well, just as they had here in the US.

Thankfully, NORTHLANE rose from the chaos and uncertainty and chose to shine it all on creating “Obsidian”. But would it hold the same weight as “Alien” for me and fans alike?

After bearing an autobiographical account of singer MARCUS BRIDGE on “Alien”, a follow up would have to be a continuation of what excelled “Alien” on the charts and within fans. The suspense was maddening!

Lucky for me, I did not have to descend into said madness because I found the review link in my inbox the next morning and so I settled in to start listening. I will mention for those if you who are not familiar with the way I review a new release, I listen and write, track by track as I am listening for the first time. What you read is my first reaction to what I am hearing during the songs entirety. 

So let’s get into this latest from NORTHLANE: this is Obsidian.

CLARITY (5:53) musically, this could be the prologue to the record or a story’s setting ready to be told. Almost a warning signal that crashes with a woody explosive drop, like the earth being slapped by a 2×4. Fueled by a unique clash of guitars and drums with lyrical penance, is this a plea for clarity to return or to be dismissed? 

CLOCKWORK (4:00) the intro returns to the clouds in timing yet also delivers fire hot white heat in the beats. Blistering vocals singe the sound waves that ultimately get you through, albeit nervously, to the calm chorus towards the end of the track. What a rush!

ECHO CHAMBER (3:48) are there bunnies caught in this container? I am having a hard time staying put and not white-girl 80’s dancing to this insanely addictive beat! The reminders of Euro-pop are dropped along the heavy AF measures, poignantly placed amidst big choreographed bars. And right to the end, you’re immediately zapped back by an oh-so heavy outro.

CARBONIZED (3:46) a spirited and bold beginning to this stand out track. Han Solo’s hands down a raucous chorus, pierced with triumphant chords. The whole track is a musical sequence of primordial ooze. Sick percussion, BTW. 

ABOMINATION (4:10) a techno-like, embalmed in reznor-esque mantra and filtered through some kind of worm hole. It puts the brain on high alert, rightly so when haunted by a horrific and familiar realization. 

PLENTY (3:41) ❤️NORTHLANE’S ability to fuse this oddly shorn, techno-sheep wool and wind it around an immense pattern of modern metal. It is smooth and natural, not forced or flaccid by unwanted influence. This song’s vocal perfection is evident in both verse and chorus. 

THIS IS A TEST (3:30) badassery in the beginning; the bass line or a low AF tuned down to gritty guitar tone. Either way, I dig it and it captivates me from the jump. I feel like I’ve been on a fast walk or jog since the beginning of their record. My word, the flogging my ❤️ is getting from the thuds of the beats to the verse’s run throughs. Am I sweating??

XEN (5:48) shrills and keyed up chords make it easy to jump in this track, hard core. It has a melodic base up against the killer bee stings of synth sounds. Mind bending metaphorical swigs of hard music from worn thoughts make this the fastest almost six minute song ever. The tonal quality of MARCUS’ vocals on this one are supreme. 

CYPHER (4:28) tribal, dynamic and prophetically pitted lyrics pinch my ear drums whilst whispered messages are scribbled in permanent marker into the sides of my skull. Wait, what? I adore the poetic metaphors inside the prose.

NOVA (4:28) finally, a breathable stop along the way. Clean, reborn vocals almost lull me towards a daydream; must pay attention! Varying and floating vibes are intrinsic and sweet. But not sugary sweet. The drums, guitars blend together brightly. 

INAMORATA (3:51) I am in love with the melody’s key and how it is paired seemingly random with the synths. This is an encanto’d heavy metal love song. 

OBSIDIAN (3:57) ⭐️⭐️⭐️star-studded stand out and of course the title track. I share DEILEY’S affinity for music with bass or percussive dominance. This is the full regalia for NORTHLANE, the culmination, and the be-all to begin-all!

DARK SOLITAIRE (4:55) a cosmic clatter twinkles to the beat as an electromagnetic pop of MARCUS’ vox make this track a back spacer. One you must listen to over and over to make sure you got the message. There’s a lot to consume between the sheets of this composition. This last track develops the story, full circle that I thought could have been present in the first track. 

There is an end to every story.

Obsidian” is a record that gives NORTHLANE their already formidable stance, a solid infrastructure capable of thriving any NWO deals no matter where you are. The band can definitively shelf any current or future lack of confidence lies the mind might try to seed. The musicianship on this record usurps any notions that NORTHLANE’S place in metal waivers. 

I love songs that have roots in thick bass and accompanying percussion.

“I like music that focuses around rhythm, pulse and being able to easily move your body to it,” says Deiley. “A lot of the songs on Obsidian came from curiosity playing with synths and bending electronic genres that I like.

“On this album I really wanted to steer the band away from riff city,” he continues “I’ve written enough riffs and contributed enough to the metal world.”

Obsidian” is the band’s 6th studio record and a first via BelieveNORTHLANE’S emancipation from the mainstream. 

Guitarist JON DEILEY comments, “It’s shown me that the other guys in the band really believe in the vision I have. If they didn’t believe in it, then they probably would have left some time ago. The fact that they’re still sticking with it shows that they really give a shit.”

It is that resolve and confidence in themselves that intrigues me doubly about “Obsidian”. Believing in yourselves and in what you do enough to take the reins is ambitious and takes more guts than we know. 

Photo Credit: Sheri Birk Fowler / 2019

MARCUS BRIDGE, singer says,

“I did realise as I was writing a lot of these songs that it is depressing with no moral to the story,” explains Bridge. “The thing to take from this album is that things aren’t always great and I’m sure people know that after these past couple of years. I think it’s more so just an exploration of those feelings and how someone who’s stuck in their own head is dealing with that and trying to move forward with awareness of how you feel, as opposed to pretending like everything’s okay when it’s not.”

And maybe that is where my admiration for NORTHLANE started and then grew into full on fan-girl when I saw them live. Whatever the case is for me, the gems found on “Obsidian” are traits in the band’s DNA. Just like the material of an obsidian rock, the record is hard, an amorphous pile of emotions and resolutions, and with origins straight from metal molten lava. 

How the hell can anyone go wrong in adding this record to their dailies? It is impossible. 

You can find NORTHLANE by searching on any social platform or by directly visiting their home on the web: 


Til Next Time – MRML – Cherri

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